Geraldine Pu and Her Cat Hat Too! | Review
Geraldine Pu and Her Cat Hat Too!
Ready-to-Read Graphics, Level 3
By Maggie P. Chang
Simon Spotlight, 2022
The Geraldine Pu books are about a Taiwanese American girl in a loving family who figures out creative ways to solve everyday problems. In the first book in the series, Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box too, Geraldine became self-conscious about the lunches prepared by her Amah (grandmother) after a classmate made fun of the way they smelled. When another classmate was teased about his smelly lunch, Geraldine knew what to do: She sat next to him and they traded smelly (but delicious) foods, leaving the others out of the loop.
Geraldine Pu and Her Cat Hat Too! takes a similarly gentle approach to another issue that touches on diversity: Hair. Geraldine may love her cat hat, Mao Maotz, but she’s not crazy about her hair—it’s straight, black, and in her opinion, boring, not like her Amah’s curly hair. With school picture day coming up, Geraldine decides drastic action is needed, so she breaks out the curlers and hair gel. Fortunately, she doesn’t wreck her hair, and her Amah takes her and her little brother to the hairdresser to get a new style. On the way home, Amah confides that she never liked her wavy hair—she wanted to have straight hair like the other kids in her class. In the end, Geraldine’s hair doesn’t look that different, but she has figured out different things to do with it and even makes a headband with little cat ears for picture day.
In Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box Too!, her schoolmate’s teasing makes Geraldine so upset that she throws her lunchbox and breaks it, but this book stays in a lower emotional key (although her brother gets upset after he cuts out a chunk of his own hair). No one bullies Geraldine about her hair; she just doesn’t like it very much so she does something about it.
Chang’s art is casual and simple, with a mostly pastel palette and just enough detail to bring the reader into each scene without overwhelming them.
The format of these leveled readers is a bit like a hybrid of picture books and comics, with narration in text outside the panels, then actions with word balloons inside the panels. The story is divided into brief chapters. Each book begins with a brief explanation of how comics work and a one-page glossary of Taiwanese words. Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box Too! ends with a recipe, and Geraldine Pu and Her Cat Hat Too! also has a project on the last page; this time it’s a collage self-portrait.
Filed under: All Ages
About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor, a newspaper reporter, and assistant to the mayor of a small city. In addition to editing GC4K, she is a regular columnist for SLJ, a contributing editor at ICv2, an editor at Smash Pages, and a writer for Publishers Weekly. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
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